STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. SAMEH SHOUKRY, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT, AT THE HANDOVER CEREMONY OF THE CHAIRMANSHIP OF THE GROUP OF 77 (New York, 15 January 2019)
(Unofficial Translation/Check against delivery)
Your Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine; Your Excellency Ms. María Espinosa, President of the United Nations General Assembly; Your Excellency Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations;
Distinguished ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to participate in this important event, handing over the presidency of the Group of 77 for the year 2019 to the sister State of Palestine and to you, President Abbas. We have full confidence in your ability, and that of the Palestinian delegation, to undertake the mission of chairing the Group successfully, and in your wisdom in representing and promoting the interests of the Group and its members efficiently and effectively, and rely on your efforts to lead the Group towards supporting UN goals and purposes given that it is the largest Group within the Organization.
Allow me also to express my gratitude to GA President Espinosa who handed the Group's presidency over to us last year. We strongly appreciate her efforts and activities in presiding over the GA, just as we greatly appreciated her endeavors, and those of the Republic of Ecuador, in supporting developmental priorities within the United Nations during her presidency of the Group last year. I would also like to thank Secretary-General Gueterres for his activities in support of the United Nations over the past year, especially, through his proposals to reform the Organization. This effort is consistent with the Group's aim to make the United Nations more capable and supportive of the interests of Member States in a world overflowing with transformations at an unprecedented pace.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Last year, Egypt took over the chairmanship of the Group for the third time since its inception. Our presidency added another building block to the accumulation of efforts and accomplishments achieved by various presidencies over the past years, nay decades. Throughout the past year, Egypt strove to represent the interests of the Group and its Member States and to advance the Group's objectives and the values of equality and justice to which we aspire in the international system and in the United Nations. And here we are today handing over the presidency to a sister state, the State of Palestine, to continue to carry the message and uphold the Group's higher interests.
In this context, it is my pleasure to share with you some basic highlights, from our time as Group's President, of what the Group of 77 has undertaken and the priorities we have addressed throughout the past year. It is my pleasure to present you with the President's Report, which you will find in front of you, about the Group's activities during the year 2018. The report reflects the richness of the coordination efforts undertaken in various fields of UN work, as well as our commitment to the UN system and responsibility towards it.
To begin with, the Ministerial Declaration of the Group of 77 and China issued in September 2018 reflects the diversity of issues and challenges facing developing countries. It also reflects the world order's complex nature, which is an additional burden on our shoulders. Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge we face is eradicating poverty in all its shapes and forms. Poverty continues to be the main obstacle against achieving the aspirations of our peoples. Poverty is still the main reason behind most of the challenges we face in today's world. Accordingly, eradicating poverty must continue to be at the heart of the UN agenda for sustainable development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
2018 was a critical year for UN reform efforts in all fields. While work within the Organization continues to develop in order to make the UN more capable of responding to global events, the pace of reform and the proposals submitted during the past year were exceptional. In 2018, the Group of 77 undertook a leading role in guiding reform toward achieving the desired effectiveness of the UN system, whether through supporting executive actions for the purpose of development or reforming the management and peace and security systems.
With regard to reforming the developmental system, the Group was remarkably active in offering a clear vision based on the valuable proposals made by the Secretary-General and his team. The cornerstone of the Group of 77's vision was national ownership of developmental priorities; determining the support which the international system can provide according to these national priorities, as opposed to the wishes and priorities of donors; as well as distancing developmental issues from any political and security considerations.
The Group also played a critical role in advancing the reform of the management and the peace and security systems within the Secretariat. Regarding the reform of the management system, the Group pushed for implementing decentralization to enable the Organization to fulfill its commitments more effectively, particularly in the field. Furthermore, the Group supported reinforcing the transparency and accountability mechanisms to allow Member States to better follow what the Secretariat is doing on the ground. As regards the peace and security system, the Group supported the direction of adopting a comprehensive approach that would achieve the desired coordination and harmony between the relevant departments of the Secretariat and reinforce the Organization's ability to deal with challenges related to peace and security, especially through developing preventive diplomacy, addressing the roots of conflicts, and supporting cooperation with regional organizations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In line with the UN achievements over the past few years with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and other programs of action in fields related to sustainable development, the Group's work last year included following the implementation of commitments enshrined in these important documents. We focused on the priority of eradicating poverty, in addition to youth employment and production capabilities, which we had identified as priorities for action at the beginning of the year, and we succeeded in imposing our vision in the Organization in this regard. This success came in spite of the increasing difficulty in reaching consensus on these issues recently, the retraction by some donor states of their international commitments, and the attempt to diminish, in particular, the international community's responsibility to support efforts of financing development.
We also exerted a lot of efforts during the past year in relation to the issue of climate change and the challenge it represents to developing states in implementing the Sustainable Development Agenda. As President of the Group, Egypt negotiated on behalf of developing states during the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We exerted our utmost in order to advance international efforts to implement and employ all of the Paris Climate Change Agreement provisions, especially, those related to mobilizing financial resources necessary to support efforts by developing countries in addressing the challenges of climate change, capacity building, and technology transfer.
Furthermore, I would like to note here the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity held last November in Sharm Al-Sheikh in Egypt, and the Group's success in including our priorities among the Conference's outcomes in order to advance efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Agenda.
The issue of South-South cooperation and the Group's efforts to prepare for the Second High-Level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation, scheduled to be hosted by Buenos Aires next March, are testament to the Group's ability to set its priorities and to the synergy among its Member States. In the process of preparing for this important conference, the Group asserted the firmness of the principles upon which South-South cooperation is based, as it is an expression of solidarity among developing states.
At the beginning of last year, the Egyptian Presidency determined that the issue of emerging technologies and their long-term effects on the interests of developing states are a priority. The objective discussion during the Group's ministerial meeting last September addressed how the fast-moving technological transformations we are witnessing in today's world and their effects on all aspects of life have come to represent a structural turning point, whose implications will certainly change lifestyles in various countries. Among the most important of these aspects of transformation is their effect on the work force, whether positively or negatively. We must also remember that access to these technologies, which have become essential, is not equal. This puts forth the issue of the technological divide between the North and the South on one hand and within the same state on the other. Throughout the year, we have held briefing sessions with a number of international organizations and research centers specialized in these issues to raise awareness about them among the Group's members and our delegations in New York aiming to address these issues more deeply.
This past year, our priorities also included seriously addressing the issue of women economic empowerment. This issue is at the heart of efforts aiming to achieve sustainable development. In this regard, the Egyptian Presidency organized two high-level meetings with ministerial participation on the sidelines of the Economic and Social Council committees' meetings. These meetings addressed the issue of financial inclusion of women as one of the most important mechanisms of empowerment. Senior officials exchanged experiences across capitals, which allowed for the creation of a shared space of mutual understanding of challenges facing us and proposing some solutions suitable for the circumstances of developing states.
Ladies and gentlemen,
When Egypt undertook the responsibility of chairing the Group of 77, we did so while confident in your support for us to carry out this mission to the best of our abilities. Nevertheless, we have to admit that if it were not for the support given by all Member States, as well as the Group's Executive Secretariat - and I would like here to thank Mr. Mourad Ahmia, the Group's Executive Secretary, for his efforts, the Egyptian delegation would not have been able to bear the responsibilities of the President of the largest negotiating group in the multilateral system. For this, we express our gratitude and appreciation, and give due recognition to all of you, for the success of the Presidency is that of the Group and vice versa.
Your Excellency President Abbas,
Undoubtedly, next year will not be easy; in fact, it will be filled with expected challenges and others yet to be revealed. But at the same time, I do not doubt that it is a year filled with great opportunities for your Presidency, for our Group, and the United Nations at large. We rely on you and your distinguished delegation in New York to lead all of our efforts in defending the Group of 77's interests within the United Nations. We fully trust in your efforts to find solutions in a spirit of consensus building. We share a common goal that we have always worked toward achieving: justice and equality in the multilateral system. We know very well that you will maintain it and continue to work with the spirit of building bridges. ?And you shall receive from us all necessary support and reinforcement in your undertaking of this noble mission. God bless.